Archive for the Kowloon Category

Hong Kong – Hung Hom – Innovation Tower

Posted in China, Hong Kong, Hung Hom, Kowloon with tags , on December 7, 2017 by gannet39

To be honest, despite being a futuristic city (the inspiration for my favourite film Blade Runner among others), I think most of the modern architecture in Hong Kong is pretty dire.

There is the odd exception, such as the Jockey Club Innovation Tower designed by Zaha Hadid. I’m a big fan of the late architect so on my day off I got the MTR over to the University of Hong Kong campus in Hung Hom to visit the School of Design. It totally deserves it’s own post.

You’ll find it on the Google map.

I managed to wander around the building taking snaps without any hassle. I’m not sure what security is like usually but maybe the fact it was graduation day helped make me relatively inconspicuous.

Click on the photos to see them at their best in full-screen slideshow mode.

 

 

Imagine being a design student and getting to study in this amazing building. I’d be very inspired by it.

More modern architecture next!

Hong Kong – out and about in Kowloon

Posted in China, Hong Kong, Kowloon, Mongkok, Prince Edward, Tsim Sha Tsui with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 5, 2017 by gannet39

The first half of this post is mainly for my colleagues staying in Mongkok, the second half is for all the bits and pieces I have left over about south Kowloon.

Mongkok Streets

Our employer puts us up at the Royal Plaza Hotel at 193 Prince Edward Road West, Mongkok, www.royalplaza.com.hk. It’s an excellent hotel with great facilities including a big, well-equipped gym and a large outdoor swimming pool. The breakfast is fully comprehensive with plenty of choices and the restaurant has a good rep although I’ve never tried it. You even get a free mobile phone to use during your stay.

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The views of uptown Kowloon from my hotel window were great.

Good morning

 

In terms of logistics, the hotel so well located that you can be in Central within forty minutes (on foot followed by metro) or instead head out to the New Territories without having to travel through town. And it’s within walking distance of all the temptations of Mongkok.

Please click the Mongkok  link on the home page index to access reviews of all the eateries I’ve been to. Everywhere mentioned is on this Google map.

When heading south on the MTR to Central, the two nearest stations, Prince Edward and Mongkok, are equidistant from the hotel, but I prefer to go to Prince Edward as the station is much less hectic.

The Prince Edward station is also near the Sunshine Laundry at 44-62 Tai Nan Street, www.sunshinelaundry.com.hk (exit C2 of Prince Edward MTR) so you can pick up your dry cleaning after work (opening hours are 0800~2100). Dry cleaning one shirt cost me HK$17 as opposed to HK$90 to wash and another HK$68 to iron in the hotel! It can take 5 days for it to be ready though so some forward planning is required.

On the other hand, at the weekend, if you exit Mongkok station via exit B2 on Fife St, you get to witness all the madness on Sai Yeung Choi Street. Street performers take over between noon and 10pm on Saturday and Sunday when the area is made pedestrian only. Buskers, boppers, singers and various talent show hopefuls come together to create mind-boggling mayhem. It’s definitely a spectacle worth seeing.

For a taste of old Hong Kong, I recommend a walk along Reclamation Street.

It’s not a particularly pretty area but it’ll give you a good idea of how things used to be.

The area is ripe for redevelopment and probably won’t be around much longer.

On the subject of construction, it’s interesting to observe that builders  in Hong Kong always use bamboo scaffolding, even when constructing modern skyscrapers! Bamboo is much more flexible than metal scaffolding but I still wouldn’t like to be bouncing around on it at the top!

Next to the entrance of the Holiday Express on Dundas Street there’s an imitation of a Banksy stencil.

In the original the rioter is throwing a bunch of flowers but this has been replaced by a book in the Hong Kong version. The piece is a controversial comment on the authorities draconian response to the democracy demonstrators earlier in 2016.

Nearby Portland Street is also very atmospheric to walk around at night.

It’s Hong Kong’s red light district so it has a very seedy atmosphere but it’s relatively safe.

There’s a Snake Restaurant here but I never had the courage to go in by myself without knowing what to ask for.

I did a fair bit of shopping on my 2016 trip. I bought a new Samsung Galaxy S8 from a vendor at Sin Tat Plaza at 83 Argyle Street (Mongkok MTR exit D2). This shopping centre for phones was once notorious for rip-offs and fake models but has been (mostly) cleaned up in recent years.

My phone was £150 cheaper than at home but I later found out the charger socket was faulty, hence the price. It wasn’t a problem (I got a wireless charger) but if you want more security then go to Broadway or Fortress (branches all over). Buying products that have their own box is a way of making sure they are original. Reviews here.

Other than China, I don’t think I’ve been anywhere where people are so addicted to their phones. Hong Kongers seem to be constantly on their mobiles when they’re walking around.

I also got a suit made at Sam’s Tailor at Ground Floor, K&L Burlington Arcade 90-94C Nathan Rd, (Tsim Sha Tsui MTR Exit B1) www.samstailor.com. He’s the most famous tailor in town and Kylie Minogue, Gwen Stefani, Avril Levigne, Bjork, Roberta Flack, Celine Dion, Steffi Graf, Joan Collins, Naomi Campbell, Hilary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice and Madeleine Albright, amongst others, have all been customers. You will run a gauntlet of other tailor touts on the way so you could compare prices but I didn’t bother. I’ve barely worn it but the suit fitted well despite being pretty cheap (around £200 as I recall).

I also got two pairs of reading glasses around the corner at Tai Kwong Optical, 22-28 Mody Road, taikwongoptical.com. The quality was good, prices were fair, and he had a good selection of frames. Small shops like this will give you a better price than the chains.

While you’re in the area you could drop in on the Avenue of Comic Stars over the road at Kowloon Park Drive, www.comicavenue.hk. Handy if you have kids to entertain but a bit silly otherwise.

Here are a few signs I came across that tickled me.

 

Walking around Hong Kong Island next!

Hong Kong – the markets

Posted in Central, China, Hong Kong, Jordan, Jordan, Mongkok, Yau Ma Tei with tags , , , , , , , on December 4, 2017 by gannet39

As regular readers will know, I love markets, especially food markets, and Hong Kong has heaps of them. Here are a few I’ve been to.

MONGKOK

Fa Yuen Street Market

Fa Yuen Street Market sells clothes, bags and electrical items as well as fruit and veg and other foodstuffs.

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The stalls are open from 10am to midnight at the northern end of the street.

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This lady is deseeding a Jackfruit or Bōluómì (菠萝蜜).

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Fa Yuen is also known as ‘sneaker street’ as there are lots of shops along the southern section selling sports shoes. They’re a bit cheaper than at home but good luck telling the snide from the real.

Fa Yuen Street Wet Market

Located at 123A Fa Yuen Street, this is a very typical Chinese food market. As such some of the sights captured in these photos are not for the faint-hearted. You have been warned!

Freshness is very important for the Chinese shopper and this market is one of the few places you can still select a chicken while it’s still alive and have it butchered in front of you. The same goes for fish which are kept in tanks ready for purchase.

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You can click on these pictures to go to full-screen slideshow mode.

 

 

Not sure what the white fungus is but…

…the bright orange things are pigs’ fallopian tubes, or Shēng Cháng (生肠), a common street food delicacy that I’m still plucking up the courage to try.

The cucumber shaped with the ridges is Sin Qua (絲瓜 or 勝瓜), or in English, amongst many other names; Angled or Ridged Luffa, Silk Gourd, Chinese Okra, or formally Luffa Acutangula. Originally from India, it tastes similar to okra and courgette.

The plant with the green leaves and white stems is called Pak Choi or Bok Choy (上海青). I tend to call it Pak Choi as the translation ‘Chinese Cabbage’ is highly ambiguous.

Cantonese wind-dried sausages  are called Laap Cheung (臘腸). They’re a slightly-sweet mix of pork fat and meat and sometimes include offal like liver. Other ingredients are light soy sauce, salt, sugar and rose wine (Mei Kwei Lu). Spices such as Chinese Five Spice, Sichuan Pepper Powder and chilli powder might also be added to create different flavours.

Goldfish Market

The northern end of Tung Choi Street (between Mongkok Road and Prince Edward Road West) is lined with pet shops.

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Goldfish and other exotic aquatic species are available to buy here. One shop proprietor wasn’t keen on me taking photos of the turtles and puppies so I laid off but I got a few of the fish.

 

 

Flower Market

If you like your blooms you should take a stroll along Flower Market Street which has over fifty flower vendors.

 

 

JORDAN

Temple Street Market

The legendary night market, running from 4am to midnight. It’s definitely worth a wander but it’s full of rip-off merchants so be careful what you buy. I bought several novelty cigarette lighters back in 2006, but they stopped working pretty much straight away. The street food is probably fantastic but I can’t take the risk of eating it due to my job. Bonne chance!

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YAU MA TEI

Yau Ma Tei Wholesale Fruit Market

A dingy but atmospheric old market that’s good for photo ops. It starts at 4am so it was pretty quiet when I arrived around lunchtime after working nearby.

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Apparently it’s disputed territory between Triad clans and gang fights have occurred, although tourists don’t have anything to worry about. The most action I saw was an animated game of Mah Jong.

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There are lots of strange fruits and veggies on display. Click to go big.

 

 

The long green beans, Dau Gok (豇豆), have many names in English, including Long-Podded Cowpea, Yardlong, Snake, Pea, Asparagus or Chinese Long Bean. The photo shows both types; the light green ones are known as ‘baak dau gok’ or literally ‘white long beans’, and the dark green are known as ‘cheng dau gok’ or ‘green long beans’.

The warty green vegetable is I think is a fatter than usual variety of Bitter Melon aka Bitter Gourd, or Kǔguā (苦瓜) in Chinese.

No idea what the long brown things are.

The pink and yellow gnarly fruits are two kinds of Dragon Fruit or ‘Huǒlóngguǒ’ (火龍果), whereas the squarish orange ones are upside down Persimmon or ‘Shizi’ (柿子).

The red fruits are called ‘Lián wù’ (蓮霧) in Chinese and in English they’re known as ‘Roseapples’ or ‘Lillypillies’, or more formally as Syzygium Cumini. and can be eaten fresh or used for jams and jellies. Cloves are the dried flower buds of it’s relative Syzygium Aromaticum.

On sunny Autumn days, everywhere you go you’ll see green mandarins being peeled and their skins being dried. ‘Chenpi‘, prized for it’s bitter flavour, is used as a cooking ingredient as well as a medicine. It’s easy to make but you have to wait at least three years for the flavour to develop.

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CENTRAL

Pottinger Street Costume Market

Pottinger Street also known as Stone Slabs Street due to its granite steps on the section between Hollywood Road and Stanley Street.

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It’s the place to come when you’re shopping for angel wings…

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…as well as Father Christmas outfits, feather boas, multi-coloured wigs and all other kinds of party supplies.

Graham Street Market

Further up the hill, the Graham Street fruit and veg market has been operating for 160 years making it Hong Kong’s oldest street market.

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Sadly the area is under threat due to redevelopment so go while you can.

You can click on these pics to enlarge them.

 

 

The segmented brown vegetable at top left is Lian Ou (莲藕) or Lotus Root.

There are a few things I’ve been unable to name. Can you help me out?

Hong Kong – bars and pubs

Posted in Central, China, Hong Kong, Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, Mongkok, Tsim Sha Tsui with tags , , , , , , , , on December 3, 2017 by gannet39

Here are a few bars I liked in 2017.They’re all on this Google map.

CENTRAL

Quinary (Advanced B+),56-58 Hollywood Road, Central, quinary.hk

Top notch mixology with prices to match. This sleek bar could double as a science lab with such exotic kit as a centrifuge, a rotary evaporator, a sous vide and vacuum machine all being used to assemble the exotic creations on the menu.

This is the home of Hong Kong’s most famous cocktail, the Earl Grey Martini. Earl Grey tea infused ‘pearls’ of sodium alginate (a seaweed extract used as a food stabliser) float in a pool of cucumber, elderflower, Ketel One citrus vodka, Cointreau, lemon and lime, topped with a foam crown made using an aquarium air pump.

It’s massively poncey and a bit difficult to drink, but I liked it (B+). The bill came to a hefty HK$143.

Recommendations from others include the Touch of Rose and the Oolong Tea Collins.

Little L.A.B. (Intermediate B+), 48-50 Staunton St, Central, www.facebook.com/littlelab50

A smaller, less pretentious bar around the corner from Quinary but also selling original and inventive cocktails. I had a decent Dark ‘n’ Stormy (spiced rum, ginger beer, bitters) and a nice chat with the barman. As it was happy hour the bill only came to around HK$100.

Aberdeen Street Social (Advanced B+),G/F, PMQ, 35 Aberdeen St, Central, www.aberdeenstreetsocial.hk

Also around the corner from the above, their outdoor terrace is a nice spot for a drink. The setting is the outdoor gardens of the PMQ, formerly a housing complex for married policemen and their families, now a centre for creative industries. It’s also a Michelin star restaurant (untried).

Club Feather Boa (Advanced ?), 36 Staunton St, Central, Hong Kong

This speakeasy type place was recommended by a friend but, although I tried a couple of times, I couldn’t get in as you have to be outside at a certain time to be inspected for admission. Their entrance policy is quite controversial, see the negative reviews on TA, but I wanted to try it for myself. Next time.

Other nearby bars reviewed on the Gannet:

Ronin (Advanced B+), 8 On Wo Lane, Ground floor, Sheung Wan, www.roninhk.com

High end food and drink with a Japanese slant.

Edition (Intermediate B), 37 Peel St, Central

Cosy neighbourhood bar selling American-Korean fusion food.

Reviews of both here.

KOWLOON

TAP aka The Ale Project (Intermediate B+), G/F, 15 Hak Po Street, Mongkok, www.thealeproject.com

Of course the craft beer revolution has reached Hong Kong as well. I came with my friend Kelvin, a beer aficionado who gave it a good rating. I had a glass of IPA which was fine but more expensive (about HK$45 a half pint) than what I’m used to paying back at home in Sheffield (the beer capital of the UK) but then this is Hong Kong. We liked it though as it has a good atmosphere. You can even stand outside and simultaneously drink and smoke if that is your want, which is impossible to do in the UK now.

Eyebar (Intermediate +), 63 Nathan Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui

Roof top bar with a fantastic view. Review here.

On this trip I deliberately avoided the three main drinking areas for Westerners, although I have passed through them on occasion so I know what they’re like. If you want frenetic townie action it can be found at Knutsford Terrace in Kowloon and Lan Kwai Fong and Wan Chai on Hong Kong Island.

Hong Kong – Asian restaurants

Posted in Causeway Bay, China, Hong Kong, Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, Sheung Wan, Tai Ping Shan, Tsim Sha Tsui with tags , , , , , on November 29, 2017 by gannet39

Here are my thoughts on the Japanese, Korean and Thai restaurants I’ve been to in Hong Kong. They’re all on this Google map.

JAPANESE RESTAURANTS

Yardbird (High Intermediate A-) 33 Bridges St, Tai Ping Shan, www.yardbirdrestaurant.com

This hipster Japanese-style yakitori and cocktail joint was the talk of the town when I was in HK in 2017. It took me two attempts to get in as they are very popular and it’s not possible to reserve so I went early one evening and got told to come back in half an hour. After a drink up the road and another short wait, I finally managed to get a seat at the bar.

As usual I began with some Edamame (steamed fresh soya beans) while I read the menu (A).

The friendly bartenders plied me with Sake (rice wine), Shōchū (stronger rice wine) and Umeshu (shōchū steeped sour plum and sugar rice wine), the last of which I’d never fully appreciated until I came here, despite having lived in Japan for a few years.

The grading kind of went out of the window as I got to taste a fair few varieties, all good (A/B).

The best was the house shōchū which I just couldn’t get enough of. They’d been experimenting with steeping the plums for longer and longer periods and the results were excellent (A+).

Yakitori are chicken parts on skewers that are grilled on a small barbeque. I had the Liver with sansho and tare dipping sauce (B) and the Meatball with tare and egg yolk (A).

I enjoyed the Cucumber Salad with sesame, miso and pine nuts B+).

And I loved the Scotch Egg with cabbage, tonkatsu sauce and Kewpie mayonnaise (A).

The Rice Cakes with furikake seasoning and sesame were good too (A).

Everything was excellent and I loved it, but it’s really expensive! I waxed over HK$1,000 in here so not somewhere you could go every day of the week, unlike this next place I went to in 2006 which also does great Japanese food.

Kyozasa (Intermediate A), 20 Ashley Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Open 12-2.30pm and 6-12pm

This is a very authentic Izakaya, the nearest equivalent to a pub in Japan, except that it serves a very wide variety of foods. This was just like going back to Japan for me; all the food was excellent and absolutely the real thing.

My friend Ethel and I started with edamame followed by sukiyaki (beef simmered in sweet sauce and dipped in raw egg), grilled fish, miso soup, sushi and sashimi and finishing with sake onigiri (salmon in balls of warm rice). Absolute heaven.

Ronin (Advanced B+), 8 On Wo Lane, G/F, Sheung Wan www.roninhk.com

This is the sister business of trendy Yardbird above. It’s a speakeasy type of affair with an unmarked door and no sign, so it took me a couple of attempts to find it. It’s not as busy as Yardbird, which is a good thing as it’s smaller with seats at a single long bar.

The food is very good apparently, they do a tasting menu, but I’d already eaten and was only here to feed my newly attained shōchū addiction.

They have the same house shōchū as in Yardbird, but it’s even more expensive here. I had three Chikusen Junmai; a handmade umeshu using junmaishu (premium sake with no added alcohol), which cost me HK$630. I loved every droplet (A+) but it was hard to justify spending that amount.

A great place, but sadly one for people who get paid a lot more than I do.

I’ve also been to a couple of Ramen shops, Yokozuna Japanese Noodle Shop and Ippei-an Ramen, reviews for which you’ll find in my post on famous noodle shops in HK.

KOREAN RESTAURANTS

I’m a massive fan of Korean food and I can’t get it in my home town, so I filled my boots while I was here. Hong Kong has a big Korean community and their restaurants and other businesses are centered around Kimberley Street, and the streets around it, in Tsim Sha Tsui.

The area is called Korea Town but that makes it sound more exciting than it is. By day scrap dealing seems to be the main activity on Kimberley Street.

 

Chung Gye Chon (Intermediate C+), 1J Kimberley Street, Tsim Sha Tsui

I came to this place on the off chance, after wandering around Korea town with nowhere in particular in mind. I’d just tried to get in to another very popular Korean place a few doors down but it was packed out. Know where you’re going and arrive early is the lesson.

As usual, the meal started with Panch’an (or Banchan); a host of little vegetable dishes. These included classics such as Kimchi (fermented napa cabbage), Kongnamul (cold boiled bean sprouts with sesame oil) Sigeumchi Namul (lightly parboiled spinach dressed with sesame oil, garlic, and soy sauce), Gaji Namul (boiled aubergine), Musaengchae or Muchae (julienned white radish in a sweet vinegar sauce), and Oi Sobagi (cucumber kimchi, stuffed with chili, spring onions and buchu (Asian chives)), plus a couple of others I didn’t recognize.

For my main I had Beef Bibimbap, another favourite. Literally meaning ‘mixed rice’, bibimbap is warm white rice topped with more Namul (sautéed and seasoned vegetables), Gochujang (chili pepper paste), soy sauce, or Doenjang (a fermented soybean paste), and typically Bulgogi (marinated and grilled sliced beef). It’s usually served in a hot stone or metal bowl with a raw egg and the whole dish is stirred together thoroughly just before eating. It was okay here but not amazing (B).

To drink I tried OB Premier Pilsner, a Korean beer masquerading as a German pilsner which, just like all the other Korean beers I’ve ever tried, is absolute piss water (C-). Shame they can’t sort this out.

The service was fine but I found the dining room to be very smoky and unattractive. The food here is okay but there are better places to be found. The search continues…

Mr. Korea BBQ (Intermediate B), 1/F, Surson Comm. Bldg., 140-142 Austin Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, www.mrkoreabbq.com

I love Korean BBQ restaurants and according to Time Out, this is one of the best ones. It’s quite modern with individual smoke vents for each circular table grill. Once again, the Panch’an was the first thing to arrive.

As it was relatively quiet I got excellent personal service from the waitress who sat and chatted with me while she grilled the food. She taught me that you should start with the fatty meat to oil the grill, and also that it’s quite okay to grill the Kimchi as well.

The food was good (B/B+) but the draught beer was completely flat and I sent it back (D). I later switched to Soju (Korean shōchū) but that wasn’t much better (too sweet, C-).

The final bill came to HK$583. So, an okay place, but I know it can be better. More research required.

Edition (Intermediate B), 37 Peel St, Central, edition37peel.wix.com

This is a Korean-American gastropub that serves fusion bar snacks from both countries.

I had the Bulgogi Sliced Beef Steak Slider with onion, garlic and jalapenos, and the Kimchi Fries with mozzarella and the spicy house sauce, and another side of Kimchi for good measure (all B).

Lots of soju drinks here as you’d imagine, many of which have been infused with fruits in-house. I had the Soju Margarita which was nice (B).

With a bottle of Tsing Tao the bill came to HK$358.

A cosy, unpretentious place with a friendly welcome.

THAI RESTAURANTS

I didn’t get to as many Thai places as I’d like to although there is a large community of Thais in HK. According to my friend Tom, Kowloon City is the area to go to but I didn’t have time. However I did go to this place in Causeway Bay for lunch…

Thai Shing (Low Intermediate B), G/F, Tang Fai Building, 36 Tung Lung Street, Causeway Bay

I came here as it was just around the block from where I’m working, but it got on my map due to its inclusion in CNN’s list of ‘ 40 dishes we can’t live without’.

The dish in question is the Shrimp Sashimi; raw prawns served with raw garlic and chilli on a bed of ice. It was a first for me, but I can’t say I was that impressed (B) as they don’t taste of much. I’m sure other things on the menu are good though.

I’ve since discovered that there is an excellent ramen shop called Kanada-ya right next door at 36 Tung Lung Street. One for next time…

So that’s it for the food. Bars and boozing next!

Hong Kong – Chinese restaurants in Kowloon

Posted in China, Hong Kong, Kowloon, Mongkok, Prince Edward, Sham Shui Po with tags , , , , , , on November 23, 2017 by gannet39

I’ve put a lot of other Chinese restaurants into specific posts on dim sum, noodles and places with a view. However I’ve put the disparate places below together according to their geographical location in Kowloon. Here’s a quick index:

Tofu Dishes – Kung Wo Beancurd Factory (Elementary B+)
Traditional Desserts – Kwan Kee (Initial B)
Street Offal – Delicious Food (Initial B+)
Claypot Rice – Four Seasons (Elementary B)
Hakka Cuisine – Chuen Cheung Kui (Intermediate B)
Vegetarian Cuisine – M Garden (Intermediate B)
Peking Duck – Spring Deer (High Intermediate B)

They’re all on this Google map.

Aficionados, please don’t hang me for any comments you might feel are a bit negative, I’m still learning!

These first two places are accessed from MTR Sham Shui Po Station via Exit B2. The second place is on the street corner on your immediate right as you come up the stairs. The first place is also on the right, about half a block up Pei Ho Street.

Kung Wo Beancurd Factory (Elementary B+), G/F, 118 Pei Ho Street, Sham Shui Po

If it’s authenticity you’re after then this is the place! Mentioned in ‘1001 Restaurants You Must Experience Before You Die’, it’s well off the tourist track in Sham Shui Po, just to the north west of Mongkok, but definitely worth the trek for tofu lovers like myself.

Pei Ho Street has a busy street market so the front of the business sells directly to passing trade. You can also sit inside and eat.

From top right, I had the Deep Fried Tofu (B+), Curry Fish Ball (B), Deep Fried Golden Fish & Soya Cake (B) and the Tofu Pudding (B+).

I enjoyed the Deep Fried Tofu the most.

The cubes of tofu are topped with fish paste before frying.

I like it with a bit of sweet chilli sauce.

I also really enjoyed the Tofu Pudding (tofu fa) for which they are famous.

In HK it’s usually served while it’s still warm with a bit of sugar or ginger syrup on the top.

Room for a bit more pudding? Then head back towards the station to this place…

Kwan Kee Store (Initial B), Shop 10, 115-117 Fuk Wah Street, Sham Shui Po

This little corner shop is famous for Bowl Pudding (put chai ko) which they’ve been making since the 60s.

The puddings are made with glutinous rice flour, wheat starch and sugar, sometimes with the addition of red beans, and then steamed. I arrived a bit late in the evening so they only had the bean version left (B).

Back down to Mongkok for the next one…

Delicious Food (Initial B+), Shop 10, G/F, 30-32 Nullah Road, Prince Edward

Hong Kong is famous for its street food and this stall has a very good reputation.

In particular it’s a good spot to try Fried Pig Intestine.

I quite liked the contrast of the crunchy outside with the softer interior (B). Mustard, hoisin or plum sauce are good condiments to have with it.

I also tried their Stinky Tofu (left and right in the foreground in the pic below), another classic HK street food for which this stall is famous. The tofu is fermented in a brine of milk, vegetables, meat and/or seafood juices for several weeks, and then deep fried. As you can imagine the aroma is quite pungent but it tastes better (B) than it smells!

Four Seasons Claypot Rice (Elementary B), 50-52 Arthur St, Yau Ma Tei

Another famous Hong Kong food you should try is Claypot Rice. This place near Temple Street night market has such a good rep for it that it evolved from a street stall into an indoor restaurant. There’s nothing fancy about it, in fact the interior walls all appear to be shower curtains. It’s very popular so to avoid the long queues either arrive early at 5pm or late at 9pm.

I began with a couple of deep-fried Oyster Cakes, another much-favoured local delicacy (B).

When the hotpot arrives on the table, you should pour a bit of soya sauce on it, replace the lid and wait 3 or 4 minutes.

Then take out the toppings and give it a good stir.

I opted for the Sausage & Chicken Rice. I really liked the chicken and the rice (B+) but I couldn’t handle the sausage which to me had a very strong, almost chemical taste (D). I did try Chinese sausages in other places later and found them more palatable though so maybe I just don’t like the ones here. More research is needed.

Chuen Cheung Kui Restaurant (High Intermediate B), 33 Nelson Street, on the corner with Yim Po Fong Street, Mongkok

This is a very popular Hakka restaurant near the Royal Plaza Hotel. It’s one of those big Chinese restaurants with lots of round tables. There were a fair few people waiting when I went but I got in quite quickly as a lone diner, even got my own table.

The Hakka are a sub-group of the Han Chinese who are some of the earliest immigrants to the region. Hakka cuisine is characterized by an emphasis on texture and very simple flavouring. I tried a couple of Hakka classics here.

The Deep-Fried Fresh Milk was interesting (B).

And the Salt-Baked Chicken was quite nice too (B).

I would have liked to try more dishes but, with a plate of stir-fried greens, this was more than enough. Enlist some help when you come here if you can.

M Garden Vegetarian Restaurant (Intermediate B), 2/F, Omega Plaza, 32-34A, Dundas Street, Mongkok

I came here with my friend Kelvin who is a vegetarian. He’d been finding it quite hard to eat well on the mainland so I brought him to this popular spot for a tofu and vegetable feast. Generally veggie restaurants are quite hard to find in China but they do exist, mainly to service the large Buddhist community. The Happy Cow website is a good resource for finding them.

We tried quite a few things, some better than others. We really liked the ‘Deep-Fried Eggplant with Teriyaki Sauce’ which had just as much depth of flavour as any meat dish (A).

We coveted what the French couple on the next table were eating and ordered it ourselves by pointing as we couldn’t find it on the menu (show them my photo if you want to order it). I think it’s deep-fried tofu, although the translation mentions mung beans. This was our favourite (A+).

The ‘Golden-Fried Tofu’ was okay (B).

However the ‘Beijing Style Smoked Vegetarian Goose’ looked good but didn’t really cut it (C).

Kelvin liked the ‘Black Truffle Scramble’ (sautéed fresh milk with egg white and Italian black truffle), more than I did (C-). Truffles are always good but the marriage with broccoli didn’t work for me, especially visually. It does taste better than it looks though.

So some choices were a bit hit and miss but there are definitely some great dishes to be discovered here.

From November 2006:

Spring Deer (High Intermediate B), 1/F, 42 Mody Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui, Open 12-3pm and 6-11pm

Perhaps the most famous Peking duck restaurant in town, you have to reserve well in advance but may still have to wait a while, 30 mins in our case. The service is offhand, verging on the downright rude, in classic Chinese restaurant style (think Wong Kei, Soho) but the duck is very crispy.

Even more Chinese restaurants on Hong Kong Island next!

Hong Kong – Western comfort food

Posted in China, Hong Kong, Hong Kong Island, Jordan, Kowloon, Mongkok, North Point, Yau Ma Tei with tags , , , , , , on November 21, 2017 by gannet39

 

Generally I tried to make a point of avoiding Western food during my visits to HK although there are undoubtedly many fantastic, and very expensive, French and Italian restaurants here. So by ‘Western comfort food’ what I generally mean is Hong Kongified desserts, sweets and bakery items, along with the odd baked potato.

Many of these places are what is called a ‘cha chaan teng’, literally a tea restaurant. You’ll find everywhere mentioned on this Google map here.

Hong Lin (Intermediate B), 143-145 Tung Choi St, Mongkok

The Pineapple Bun or ‘bo lo bao’ (corrupted to ‘polo bun’) is a Hong Kong institution, so much so that in 2014, the local Government listed the pineapple bun as ‘a part of Hong Kong’s intangible cultural heritage’. Hong Lin is one of a few cafes that is famous for its buns.

I had mine with butter which is known as ‘bo lo yaa’. The bun is the perfect complement to milk tea, a British influence originally but now a much stronger brew made with Black & White full fat evaporated milk. It wasn’t a looker but it was very tasty (B).

If you’re brave you could try their Yuenyeung, a hot or cold drink made with three parts coffee to seven parts milk tea.

Kam Wah Cafe (Intermediate B), 47 Bute Street, Mongkok

This place is also famous for its pineapple buns however I came to try their French Toast at the urging of my friend Dominque who has local ties. French toast is another sweet treat beloved by Hong Kongers and according to Foursquare, this is one of the best places to try it. I wouldn’t disagree (B+).

Australia Dairy Company (Intermediate B), 47 Parkes St, Jordan, en.wikipedia.org

Another legendary place, established in 1970 by a local man who had worked on a farm in Australia in the 40s, hence the name.

Service is famously unrefined (brusque but efficient for me) but people put up with it for the sake of their renowned Milk Puddings which are stacked up in the window sills (A).

Their scrambled eggs are also famous (A) even if the soft white bread they are served on was a bit too retro for me (B-). Iced milk tea makes a nice change (B).

Kee Tsui Cake Shop (Initial B), G/F, 135 Fa Yuen Street, Mongkok, open 7:30am to 8pm

This dispenser of baked goods is actually a stall rather than a shop as such.

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For thirty years it has been a local institution and has even garnered a Michelin recommendation.

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Personally I don’t see what all the fuss is about. I tried the ‘Baby Chicken Cakes’ but found them quite dry and uninteresting (C+).

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I enjoyed the  ‘Wife Cakes’ more (made with a filling of winter melon, almond paste, ground sesame, and five spice powder) but still wasn’t completely wowed (B-).

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Next time I might try the glutinous rice cakes with red bean paste or the Egg Tarts.

For American style cookies, a very famous company with branches all over HK is Jenny Bakery. I can also recommend their main competitor, Mrs Fields Cookies, which has outlets in many of the MTR station.

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Their Sugar Butter and Chocolate Chip cookies are dangerously moreish.

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Lee Keung Kee North Point Mini Egg Cakes (Initial B+), 492 King’s Road, North Point, open 10am to 11pm

Another sweet snack much beloved by locals is the Egg Waffle, or mini egg cake, known locally as ‘gai daan tsai’.

This place in North Point has the rep for making some of the best as the many press clippings covering its walls show. It’s just a hole in the wall but easy to find as there’s usually a queue outside.

There are now eight branches but it’s this one that attracts all the attention.

I enjoyed mine but it’s not something I’d get religious about. The exterior was nice and crunchy but I thought it was a bit too dry on the inside (B+).

Tsui Wah (Intermediate B), 41 Pitt St, Yau Ma Tei, www.tsuiwah.com

Tsui Wah is the Hong Kong version of an American diner, described by some as ‘the Denny’s of Hong Kong’.

Established in 1967, they have now over thirty locations (some open for 24 hours).

Despite being a chain, each branch has its own character.

I particularly like the 70s retro stylings of the Yau Ma Tei branch.

My own house is also filled with moulded plastics from past decades so I feel quite at home here.

You can get a pineapple bun and milk tea here too but the extensive menu has a varied and reasonably priced choice of fusion dishes from Cantonese, Western and other Asian cuisines.

I had the Indonesian dish Nasi Goreng which wasn’t a pretty sight but it pressed all my comfort food buttons.

Tsui Wah is not fancy in the slightest, but it’s defintitely an experience, as recommended by Frommers, Where Chefs Eat and Anthony Bourdain amongst others.

3 Potatoes (Initial A), 30 Nullah Rd and Tung Choi Street, Mongkok, www.facebook.com

A Michelin-recommended Baked Potato stall! Michelin have only recently arrived in HK and they are sensitive to the charge of being elitist so they have gone out of the their way to suggest more accessible eateries such as this.

I had the sour cream and cheese baked potato which was great (B+) but it’s just a potato at the end of the day.

If you find this a bit too bland, the more daring among you can pop around the corner to Delicious Food for a slice of grilled pig intestine on a stick (see next post).

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